New Year’s Eve Launches With Spectacular Welcome

Red flares fired from the top of the Sydney Opera House & a golden sun blazing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will mark the official opening of the Sydney New Year’s Eve 2016 celebrations in an awe-inspiring Welcome To Country.

This year’s Welcome To Country ceremony has been extended to 6 minutes & will feature a kaleidoscope of cultural imagery projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons & a smoking ceremony on board 2 boats travelling from Blackwattle Bay to Sydney Harbour.

Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the ceremony reflected Australia’s respect for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples, the traditional custodians of our land we now call Sydney.

“This spectacular & moving visual ceremony is a recognition of the wonderful diversity of this city. Sydney New Year’s Eve‘s powerful Welcome To Country celebrates the talent, culture & creativity of our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities”

“And with our festivities streaming live, we’ll be paying tribute to the world’s oldest living cultures across the globe”

The ceremony is directed by Sydney New Year’s Eve creative consultant Rhoda Roberts AO, who first unveiled a spectacular 5-minute Welcome To Country in 2015.

“The ceremony was received so positively, the impact was incredible & I was blown away. The challenge this year was to do something very different” Ms Roberts said.

“We’ve created a complex visual display of light & sound for this year’s theme – Always Walking On Aboriginal Country. We’ll be welcoming guests to Gadigal land that speaks to our communities including international visitors”

A smoking ceremony will start at 7:30pm when the Tribal Warrior Association vessels, Tribal Warrior & Mari Nawi, travel from Blackwattle Bay to Sydney Harbour carrying a cauldron of melaleuca (paper bark) & eucalyptus leaves cleansing the waterways and harbour & seeking safe passage into the new year for everyone.

At 8:38pm, the harbour-wide Welcome To Country begins with flares fired from the Sydney Opera House sails followed by kaleidoscopic projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.

Streams of blues & greens will bubble over the Bridge, representing the 3 bordering rivers of the Eora Nation – the Hawkesbury, Cooks & Nepean Rivers.

Aboriginal totems of native flora and fauna, representing the spiritual emblems of clans or language groups & images of symbolic ochre skin markings that traditionally decorate the body and environment will be among the images projected.

Red angel bursts will fire from the 4 9pm Family Fireworks barges in the harbour & the words Always Walking On Aboriginal Country will be projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons in English & Gadigal.

The Tribal Warrior and Mari Nawi vessels will cross paths in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge before joining the Harbour Of Light Parade.

“My intent is to honour the relationship between traditional custodians & the land by saying ‘We acknowledge this country, its tradition & custodians’” Ms Roberts said.

“We are in such a special place on Sydney Harbour & we are looking at ways that we can celebrate our history, our culture & our heritage using modern elements like pylon projections and pyrotechnic effects & that makes it fun for everyone”

“Having the welcome on the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for all the world to see is a commitment from the City of Sydney that’s really important”

Audiences can watch the live stream of the Welcome To Country, the 9pm Family Fireworks & the Midnight Fireworks on, the 1-stop shop for planning your night on the harbour, at home or across the globe.

Media Release: City Of Sydney